Jul 092012

Well, it’s been quite an eventful week.  Starting with last weekend, my wife and I went shopping for a decent desk for me to work on.  I currently have an old Ikea computer desk that I really outgrew several years ago.  It has little surface area, and no drawers at all.  My better half convinced me that if I’m going to take this writing stuff seriously, I need a real desk with real storage in it.  So we went shopping and found a great U-shaped desk with a credenza, hutch, lateral file drawers, bookshelves, and about triple the surface area that I currently have.  However, since we’re also looking into getting new carpet, we need to wait for the furniture until the new carpet is in.

Oh well, patience is a virtue (or so they tell me).

Then on Monday, I was honored to be one of the guests on the Dead Robots’ Society podcast!  It was so cool to be part of the podcast that rekindled my interest in writing to begin with.  In case this is the first time you’re reading my blog, I was on DRS because I had a short story (The Burning Land) in their anthology, Explorers: Beyond the Horizon.  I urge you to get a copy, and not just because I have something in it.  I’ve read about half of it so far, and there are some really good authors represented in it.  And as icing on the cake (for me), the anthology has received its first review:

Jul 05, 2012

Anita King        rated it        4 of 5 stars false

As a fan of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast, I have long anticipated the release of their anthology project, and it does not disappoint.If I could give halves, I would give this a 4.5.
Overall, this anthology is a very enjoyable read. While a few of the stories have darker endings, the book carries a thread of hope and optimism throughout, especially appropriate for an anthology that focuses on exploration and the very human drive for discovery.
A couple of the stories near the end didn’t really strike a chord with me, but most of them were just what I was hoping for. A few that I especially enjoyed are “The Burning Land,” by Jeff Brackett, “A Mournful Rustling,” by Court Ellyn, and “Beneath an Orange Sky,” by Andrew Hawnt. This book has given me a whole new list of authors to look out for in the future.

Wow! I feel like pulling a Sally Fields – “you really like me!”  Thanks, Anita.

And of course, this week was also the 4th of July.  So belated Happy 4th, everyone!  It sucked that it fell in the middle of the week this year, but c’est la vie.  The worst part of it was that our dogs don’t much care for fireworks, so we got little to no sleep, then had to get back to work on Thursday. (sigh)

Thursday I saw a great piece of artwork online, and was able to find the artist.  I contacted Ana Fagarazzi about doing a cover for me for Streets of Payne, and will hopefully have the cover in a few weeks.  I’m really looking forward to this.  Ana’s artwork is phenomenal.

And I got an email from my editor regarding “The Road to Rejas.”  She says she’s finished the story, has her notes, and we are scheduled to discuss round one of edits tomorrow evening.

I just finished my first installment in “EBS”, the book that Ed Lorn and I are working on together.  It is shaping up to be quite the fun tale.  It’s finally reached the point where I’m no longer writing the characters – they’re now telling me how the story goes.  I’ve never been involved in a project like this before.  We have a cast of characters, and Ed and I have split them up.  He writes some of the characters, and I write others.  What’s really intriguing about this process is that we work off of each other’s pieces – Ed writes part, sends it to me, and after reading it, I write my character’s response.  Then I send mine to him, etc.  It keeps the story fresh and interesting for both of us.

And speaking of Ed Lorn, I mentioned a few weeks ago that he had asked me to write a guest blog for him on the subject of prepping.  Well, I finally did it, and he’s posted it on his website.  Read “Ruminating on: Jeff Brackett on Preppers” and leave a comment.

I’ve also gotten a little more done on Streets of Payne.  Working to get cover ideas to Ana has helped clarify some points about the protagonist, Amber Payne.

On a more personal note, my better half an I sanded, spackled, taped off and painted three rooms in the house.  We’re now officially empty-nesters, and are responding appropriately – we’re rebuilding the nest.  :)

That’s it for now.  It’s midnight, and I have to get up in five hours to go to work.  So until next time, stay safe. :bye:

Oct 312011

Things are finally moving on the book cover front.  The first round of concept pieces with which I was presented were interesting.  One of them I even liked.  Unfortunately, none of them had anything at all to do with my book.  However, what they did was get me thinking more about what I would be interested in seeing on the cover.  I spent some time on a couple of stock photo sites and put together a few lightboxes.  I’d never heard of lightboxes before Steve Jackson at Telemachus Press recommended them, and I have to admit, they are pretty handy for collaboration on projects like these.

If you’re curious, all you have to do is go to one of the stock photo sites and look for pictures that you think you might be able to use.  In my case, I found a few pictures of people wearing the type clothing I felt was appropriate for characters in my novel, with poses I though conveyed the attitude I wanted, and I found other pictures that I thought might work well as a background for them, and I saved the whole group in a lightbox.  So let’s say you’ve done the same thing.  At that point, you send the link for your lightbox to whomever you may be working with on the project so they can see the same pictures and you can discuss what you like and don’t like about them, and why you do or don’t like certain aspects of them.  For instance, I found a picture of a young woman wearing cammo pants and a tank top, holding a Kalashnikov draped over her shoulder.  Her eyes were downcast, looking exhausted, and forlorn, and she reminded me very much of the Megan character in my novel.  However, the picture was done in such subdued colors that it looked almost like it was done in black and white.  I also found some pictures of various backgrounds that I thought fitting for the novel – some deep woodland settings, a few abandoned playgrounds, etc.  My thinking on this was that I would like the “sad soldier” picture to be colorized (if possible) and superimposed onto one or more of the other backgrounds.

Of course, there is also the chance that we’ll be using a photo I took some time back on my own.  Before I had any idea what I was doing, I thought I would use my kids as models for possible cover art, and snapped several pictures of them in various poses, holding a few weapons.  One of those pictures has my daughter in a kneeling position, aiming a home-made crossbow directly at the camera.  Telemachus has sent me a concept piece using this photo in one of the deep woodland backgrounds.  I’m tempted to post it here, but I’m not sure of the legalities involved, since I haven’t yet bought the rights to the background artwork.  Guess I should play it safe for now.  :-?

ITMT, Telemachus also got the manuscript back to me on Saturday (October 29) for formatting review.  I just finished it late last night, and I have a few questions that I’ll have to call them about this afternoon, but for the most part it looks really good.  Of course, I also found a couple of minor mistakes that got past me during editing, so I’ll have to figure out what (if anything) I need to do about them.  I’m pretty sure I know what changes I need to make, but would like to run it past Lynn O’Dell just in case.  (Damn, I’ve grown dependent on her!  :)   )

Between format checking, and working on cover ideas, I really didn’t get much done on the writing front this weekend.  On the one hand, I feel like I’m still not making the kind of progress I need to, but on the other, I am still making progress.

Well, that’s it for now — short and sweet this week.  So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, and keep safe.

Aug 222011

I suppose this is similar to what I went through some months ago when I began “The great editor hunt“.  The way I went about it that time seems to have worked well enough, gaining me an editor with whom I am very happy.  So I figure, why not follow that winning strategy with regards to finding a cover artist?

And with that in mind, I have begun querying a few cover artists.  So far, I’ve only sent RFQs to two artists, but am planning to find several more.  Unfortunately, the more I inquire, the more I find that I may have to do this in two stages.  Here’s the problem I’m running into – most of the cover artists I’ve found so far just use stock images that they can purchase online, and then use some basic manipulation to create a composite image for the client. The end result is a good product for a reasonable price. But it’s not necessarily what I’m after.

You see, I’ve found a piece of artwork that is very close to what I would like for my cover – just not quite close enough.  However, the quality of the artwork is phenomenal, and has shown me that what I want to do is possible.  Now, since I’ve already found a piece that is close to what I want, and is definitely of the quality that I’m after, the logical thing would be to track down the original artist and hire him to do the cover art.  Logical, right?  But I can’t find any contact information, and Photobucket states that they will not serve as a conduit between artists and potential buyers, as the volume of queries is simply too great to deal with.  And with no way to track down the original artist, I have to try to find someone else who can do the same level of photomanipulation quality in Photoshop.

So I have to find someone who specializes in digital artwork (photomanipulation, specifically), and see if I can get them to create an image I want to use on my cover.  Then, since most of the digital artists who specialize in photomanipulation don’t actually create book covers, I will then likely need to take that piece of artwork to a cover designer so that they can integrate it into an actual book cover.

The real question is going to be whether or not I can afford the cover that I envision.  I guess I’ll never know unless I find someone who can do it, right?  So, if any of you know someone with mad skillz in Photoshop, point them my way, would you?  I would REALLY appreciate it.  ;-)